|Constantinus the Liberator|
It's been a while since we've had a good ol'character entry here on RM. Shawn Abreu has delivered with a series of unit entries I found in my inbox. Now I have the pleasure of sharing and reviewing these entries for our readers.
Today we're looking Constantinus the Liberator, a renegade Sergeant formerly of the Sons of Guilleman. Disgusted with the state of the Imperium he turns the world of Nova Terra against the Imperium declaring himself the rightful ruler and liberator of the sector.
Mr. Abreu tells an interesting story in this entry - an iconic clash between basic human morals and the tired dogmas of the corpulent Imperium. The narrative is a little confusing as the catalyst behind Constantinus' treachery is not altogether evident. The story shifts very quickly from the purging of the xenos threat to a restless populace to the ascension of a powerful warlord - essentially three novels worth of "fluff" in three paragraphs.
Rules-wise Constantinus can be described as the much needed Chaos Space Marine buffer character. His Space Marine Captain stats lend the aging codex a more modern combat prowess in the HQ slot. A subtle bonus is that Constantinus carries both a powerfist and a power sword allowing him to make the best of his high initiative whilst also giving him the opportunity to deliver Instant Death blows to other marine characters.
The only original rule in the entry is the 'Tactical Mastery' special rule and it is a big one!
"He may elect to have one of the following unit types to be chosen as a troops choice: Chosen Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Terminators, Possessed Chaos Marines, Chaos Bikers, Raptors, Chaos Havocs, or Obliterators."
Hmmm... Well the intention is clear: give Chaos players the flexibility and choices found in newer codices. Mr. Abreu wants the Chaos Space Marine codex to become a playground for Chaos players to forge armies as they see fit. But there is no limitation at all to this process - the entire codex is simply let loose in the troops section which already features 2 or 3 strong troops choices. Any one of the above units being moved to the troops section would have been a breath of fresh air for Chaos players but this is more like a whirlwind.
At 160 points I don't feel Constantinus creates any opportunity cost for Chaos players. He is infinitely better than any other choice (though that's not a great accomplishment) and will give Chaos players more powerful lists when in fact the power level of the codex was never an issue. Quad-melta Havoc squads and Nurgle Bikers are even more obnoxious when made scoring.
Still the Chaos Space Marine codex is in dire need of new options and perhaps this is the best way. I might have created a special character for each of the units allowing only one unit to be a troop choice per character but the result would be largely the same albeit more "colorful."
I have blogged before that the FOC mechanic is a poorly contrived one; That it draws completely arbitrary lines across unit entries forcing players away from themed lists. Mr. Abreu appears to agree with me. Just a year earlier I might have dismissed an entry such as this one as wishful, overpowered thinking. Since the BT/DA update, however, the status quo has changed. With the more efficient unit in the game (TH/SS Termies with CML) becoming a Troops choice there is little to suggest Constantinus the Liberator cannot become an equally refreshing addition to the game.